1MDB: Roger Ng to be extradited to US

Glen Norman
November 2, 2018

The filing is likely to put pressure on the bank to reach a settlement with USA authorities.

Prosecutors say Low, Ng, and Leissner conspired to launder the proceeds of fraud involving 1MDB through the US financial system. Low had also said he would not "submit to any jurisdiction where guilt has been predetermined by politics and self-interest overrules legal process". The company, which earned $600m in fees stemming from its work with 1MDB, has in the past denied wrongdoing and said it was co-operating with the investigation.

It is a stark charge against the former Goldman employees, who until now have faced no charges of wrongdoing in the years-long money laundering and embezzlement saga involving the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund, or 1MDB.

The Malaysian government is now seeking restitution from Goldman.

Prosecutors in the United States and elsewhere believe that a group of people with close ties to former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak stole from the fund to buy paintings, yachts, real estate and even investment stakes in movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street. The justice department's kleptocracy asset recovery initiative has already filed civil charges aimed at seizing assets allegedly bought with embezzled 1MDB funds, including a $39m mansion in the Los Angeles hills and a $30m penthouse in Manhattan overlooking Central Park. It has seized 240 million Singapore dollars ($180 million) of property and cash and says about half of that belonged to Low and his immediate family.

The money was supposed to support development projects, but prosecutors say the three men "conspired to launder" more than $2.7bn through the U.S. financial system, and used this money to pay bribes and "for the personal benefit of themselves and their relatives". Funds from 1MDB that were raised for development projects were used to pay for luxury real estate, art, lavish parties and more, US investigators say.

As part of the three-count indictment, Ng is also charged with conspiring to violate the FCPA by circumventing the internal accounting controls of a major New York-headquartered financial institution (Financial Institution), which underwrote more than US$6 billion (RM25 billion) in bonds issued by 1MDB in three separate bond offerings in 2012 and 2013, while Ng was employed at the Financial Institution as a managing director.

Goldman said in an emailed statement that it "continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating this matter".

The criminal indictment, unsealed in NY, also charged Jho Low and Ng Chong Hwa, a former Goldman Sachs banker also known as Roger Ng, with paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials. Leissner, Ng and others received large bonuses in connection with that revenue. Najib chaired its advisory board and as finance minister held veto power over its activities.

In June, anti-corruption investigators questioned Najib's wife about alleged theft and money-laundering. He has called the Malaysian charges political.

Najib and Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the former treasury secretary-general, pleaded not guilty to misappropriating government funds between December 2016 and December 2017.

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